Government ban microbeads from cosmetics

  • 21 July 2017

The government are going to ban microbeads from cosmetics.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption This is what microbeads look like in shower gel

Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic found in things like toothpaste and body washes.

The environment secretary Michael Gove said that the tiny beads have 'a devastating effect on marine life".

The government have said that companies have to stop uses the beads in products they make by January 1st 2018, and by June it will be against the law to sell products with microbeads.

Manufacturers use them because they can help make products abrasive - meaning, for example, they help wash off dry skin. However, a single shower can result in 100,000 beads entering the ocean.

Water pipes have filters in them to catch waste that shouldn't go into the ocean, but microbeads are too small to be caught by them. This means they end up in the sea.

Professor Richard Thompson from the University of Plymouth explained to the BBC in 2016 how big a problem microbeads are.

"Over 680 tonnes of microbeads are used in the UK alone every year," he said.

More on this story